What is this grammar rule?

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Tim Evans
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What is this grammar rule?

Post by Tim Evans » November 10th, 2015, 11:16 pm

What is the name of the grammar rule that makes the noun with the definite article the first word, i.e. The one that applies in John 1:1

και θεος ην ὁ λογος

Trying to find it in my Duff textbook, but can't find it at all.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: What is this grammar rule?

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 10th, 2015, 11:19 pm

You're probably thinking of Colwell's Rule, though it's phrased differently:
Definite predicate nouns which precede the verb usually lack the article ... a predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as an indefinite or a 'qualitative' noun solely because of the absence of the article; if the context suggests that the predicate is definite, it should be translated as a definite noun ...
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Tim Evans
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Re: What is this grammar rule?

Post by Tim Evans » November 10th, 2015, 11:58 pm

The term Colwells rule rings a bell, however I think I mean more basically than this, i.e. About the fact that you have to reverse the word order at all (not the fact that a definite article can be put back.) I remember seeing it in Duff, I just can't find it. (Im assuming it is in Duff, as I don't know how else I would know that the word with the definite article goes first).
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: What is this grammar rule?

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 11th, 2015, 12:15 am

I'm not aware of any such rule. Colwell's rule and John 1:1 are almost always discussed together, so I suggest you are partially remembering that.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: What is this grammar rule?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 11th, 2015, 12:03 pm

Tim Evans wrote:The term Colwells rule rings a bell, however I think I mean more basically than this, i.e. About the fact that you have to reverse the word order at all (not the fact that a definite article can be put back.) I remember seeing it in Duff, I just can't find it. (Im assuming it is in Duff, as I don't know how else I would know that the word with the definite article goes first).
E. C. Colwell completed his doctor’s dissertation on “The Character of the Greek of John’s Gospel” in 1931. His intensive research into the grammar of John’s Gospel led to the discovery of his rule.
p 257 257
In 1933 he published an article entitled, “A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament,” in JBL 52 (1933) 12-21. Ever since, his rule has been known simply as “Colwell’s rule.”
2. Statement of the Rule
Colwell’s rule is as follows: “Definite predicate nouns which precede the verb usually lack the article … a predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as an indefinite or a ‘qualitative’ noun solely because of the absence of the article; if the context suggests that the predicate is definite, it should be translated as a definite noun… .”

Wallace, D. B. (1999). Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (pp. 256–257). Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software.

However, let me point out that it is normal to omit the definite article in predicate nominative constructions regardless of the word order.
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: What is this grammar rule?

Post by Shirley Rollinson » November 11th, 2015, 6:54 pm

Tim Evans wrote:What is the name of the grammar rule that makes the noun with the definite article the first word, i.e. The one that applies in John 1:1

και θεος ην ὁ λογος

Trying to find it in my Duff textbook, but can't find it at all.
I was not aware that the rule(s) had a name
If you would like to see a summary of "how to find the subject", see section 5.5 of the Online Textbook, go to http://www.drshirley.org/greek/textbook02/contents.html
and use the link to chapter 5
thanks
Shirley Rollinson
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: What is this grammar rule?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » November 12th, 2015, 12:59 pm

To understand the use and non-use of the article in NT Greek read all of chapter six and M9 of: Scenarios, Discourse, and Translation, Richard A. Hoyle, 2008 SIL International (download from SIL e-books).

6.4. Lack of the article with Hearer-old items marks salience
As stated above, there are clear examples of Discourse-old and other Hearer-old
items which are referred to anarthrously. Levinsohn (1992:97) notes this problem:
Throughout the New Testament, nouns whose referents are “known, particular” (Blass,
Debrunner, and Funk 1961, sec. 252) are at times preceded by the definite article (i.e.
“arthrous”) and at times appear without it (i.e. they are “anarthrous”).
Levinsohn (1992:99) interprets this as due to “salience”:
anarthrous references to particular, known participants either mark the participant as locally
salient or highlight the speech which he utters.
I agree with Levinsohn’s basic conclusion, that the absence of the article for a
“known, particular” referent (i.e. Hearer-old) shows salience or highlighting. However, I
would like to draw a more broad-reaching conclusion, that all arthrous reference to
“things” identifies them as Hearer-old, and all anarthrous reference to “things” identifies
them as salient.

The presence of the article marks Hearer-old and says “this is the same old known
particular item, don’t pay special attention to it, as you already know what it is”.
The absence of the article marks salience and says “hey, pay attention” or in
technical terminology “use extra processing-effort”.

A Discourse-new Hearer-new item is always salient and lacks the article at first mention.
This says “Pay attention. Make a new mental scenario for me.” This new scenario
will definitely be linked with, and perhaps become a subsection of, the scenario for the
“category” it belongs in. For example, “a man” opens a new scenario for this particular
individual, but this new scenario is linked to the general scenario for “man” which is a
cluster of, cum generalization from, all previous knowledge (experiential or learned)
about men. Thus if the speaker says “his feet” the audience will not respond “But you
never said he had feet!” They expect feet, not from the new scenario “a man”, but from
its link to the generic scenario “men”. Only in very restricted cases, such as science
fiction or brand new knowledge, is a brand-new scenario opened unrelated to anything
else, e.g. “Along came a zorn”. Even here, the audience assumes from the action, that a
zorn is probably animate.

In contrast a Hearer-old item, whether Discourse-new or Discourse-old, typically has
the article. So if the item is Discourse-old and Discourse-recent (assumed by the writer to
be still in the audience’s short-term processing memory) the article is expected, marking
Hearer-old, e.g. Acts 18:12, 14, 17 (from Levinsohn 1992:100), where Gallio is introduced
anarthrously, but referred back to arthrously. Similarly, Acts 12:1–17 where Herod
and Peter are introduced anarthrously, but referred back to with the article.


M9. Salience because of participant role, being the predicate noun, or
subject complement
A “predicate noun” or “subject complement” is used to predicate information about
the subject, e.g. “king” in “Croesus was king”. The concepts of subject and predicate are
also related to given/new and topic/comment distinctions, the subject being “given” or
“topic”, the predicate being “new” or “comment” (Chalker and Weiner 1994:307).
Predicate nouns are naturally salient, since they are the new comment, rather than the
given propositional topic.

Levinsohn (1992:97) relates this to articular use in Greek:
Frequently, the propositional topic is information that the author considers to be “known” to the
reader and the subject is most frequently the topic. The observed tendency for the subject to be
arthrous in Greek naturally follows.
Similarly, the comment usually contains “new” information “not in the sense that it cannot have
been previously mentioned, although it is often the case that it has not been, but in the sense that
the speaker presents it as not being recoverable from the preceding discourse” (Halliday,
1967:204). As a result, the constituents of the comment show a tendency to be anarthrous.
Examples of comments being anarthrous, even when the referent is definite, come
from Hebrews. The topic of these statements is God’s Son, introduced in 1:2 (topic is
underlined, comment bolded):
Hebrews 1:2
ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων,
in Son whom he-appointed heir of-all
Hebrews 1:3
ὃς ὢν  παύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτου
who being radiance of-the glory and representation of-the reality of-him
Surely, given the whole focus of Hebrews on the uniqueness of Jesus, we are to understand
that Jesus is not simply an heir, a radiance, and a representation, but the heir, the
radiance, and the representation. Anarthrousness here, I posit, is to mark the comment as
salient, by presenting it as if it were NEW (even though, presumably, the recipients of
Hebrews knew these facts).
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: What is this grammar rule?

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 12th, 2015, 5:06 pm

This may seem a bit off-topic, but what I would like to know is how speakers of Latin process references without (definite) articles. Is there are a study on that? How is salience marked or not in language without articles?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: What is this grammar rule?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 13th, 2015, 10:39 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:This may seem a bit off-topic, but what I would like to know is how speakers of Latin process references without (definite) articles. Is there are a study on that? How is salience marked or not in language without articles?
Very interesting question. I have always found it interesting, in the light of exegetical arguments involving the use of the Greek article, that Latin never felt a need for it and that it didn't seem to bother Jerome as all when he translated such passages as John 1:1. It's a bit like Hebrew: just how did the ancient Israelites get along without tenses for their verbs? Yet despite this "lack" the Romans and the Israelites seemed perfectly happy (at, least linguistically speaking). A couple of suggestions, the overall concept being -- Contextus Rex:

1) Word order. It's more important in Greek than the beginning student thinks, right? The same in Latin We tell our beginning Latin students don't worry about word order, the syntactic weight of the sentence is carried by inflection, and that's right on one level. But Latin does have an expected order, subject -- predicate -- verb, and this largely controls saliency, especially since it can be varied for rhetorical and poetic purposes. When a noun falls in a particular slot in the order of the discourse the context then indicates whether the noun would be articular in a language with articles and also the prominence of the noun...

2) Liberal use of demonstrative pronouns. Latin has three of them, plus an intensive. Seeing these in context will often indicate the relative importance of the antecedent.

I know of no study along these lines (but would love to see it if one is found). Basically, if you understand the language, you just sort of get it. The Romans did too, just like the ancient Israelites were able to see temporal relationships primarily through contextual clues.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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